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Antivirus Review: ESET Smart Security 7 - Blog

Posted on: 26-11-2013

ESET Smart Security 7 offers the same virus protection as ESET NOD32 Antivirus plus extra security.

ESET has improved over the past few years, but still a few flaws.

ESET is good at blocking real-time, zero-day threats, and unlike we saw in the last release the several flaws in its overall protection, especially with deeply embedded malware have been fixed.

The interface looks polished, though usability isn't as simple as we'd like.

Its extra features are basic but useful, with one exception: the Parental Controls.

If that feature is why you're considering ESET, look elsewhere.

Overall, ESET is continuing to make progress each year but still has a ways to go.

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Virus & Spyware Protection: 95%

ESET stopped many zero-day threats and dangerous sites, but not all.

During scanning, it also caught many of the viruses, but wasn't able to fully remove one infection, leaving behind files and registry items that could still be dangerous.

Scanning for embedded viruses was also a problem for ESET Smart Security 7. It caught most of the most dangerous stuff, but on running a full-system scan, Smart Security missed a few items.

ESET's main selling point, its firewall, is not as strong as it should be. It blocked port scans well, but simply let in too many questionable connections.

Its HIPS (Host Intrusion Prevention System) feature notifies you when threats attempted to make changes to your system. This is a useful feature, but we found the pop ups and warnings annoying.

Resource Usage: 96%

When running idle, resource usage was average. CPU usage was 1% and memory usage was 55%.

While scanning, CPU usage was low, only 16%. Memory usage was average at around 62%.

User Interface: 95%

ESET's look is modern, sleek and utilizes familiar left-hand navigation.

However, we found usability was compromised with too many sub-links and small text (a big button to "fix" elements that need attention would be nice. Instead, only a small link is displayed making it a little unclear as to what needs to be done).

Also, while the Tools section is useful, showing all computer activity and other useful stats, advanced settings were difficult to find, especially for the Firewall.

Overall, ESET's user interface has a lot of potential and is mostly user-friendly—but they need to put more attention towards user interaction for a better result next year.

Technical Support: 95%

Technical support is free, but limited. Online support is available through a limited knowledgebase, email, forums, and video tutorials.

There is no way to contact ESET by phone or chat—only an online email form is available to contact them.

Without phone or even chat support, ESET's technical support gets a very low ranking from us again this year.

Antivirus Updates: 97%

Updates are set to download automatically, but there's no way to know how often ESET checks for updates nor any options to set when you want virus definitions to be updated.

On the plus side, ESET makes their updates seamless and automatic. On the minus side, we'd like more information and control on how those updates are downloaded.

Extra Features

ESET Smart Security 6 offers a few noteworthy extra features.

Extra Feature:

Parental Controls: 49%
Parental Controls offer the ability to block specific sites or categories of sites. However, there is no time limit option or reporting. In our test, ESET failed to block sites within their corresponding categories about 70% of the time.

Extra Feature:

Social Media Scanner: 90%
Social Media Scanner protects your Facebook wall, news feed and private messages from malicious content.

Extra Feature:

Gamer Mode: 88%
Game mode offers protection while you are playing and also minimizes resource usage to reduce performance impacts.

Extra Feature:

Email Protection: 95%
Email antivirus protection is included in this antivirus software (not always the case with other antivirus software). ESET NOD32 easily integrates with Outlook Windows Live Mail, or Thunderbird. A simply checkbox turns this extra feature on or off.

ESET will scan emails as they come in for suspicious or dangerous virus threats.

Extra Feature:

Removable Media Scanner: 89%
Scans USB drives, DVDs, CDs, and any other removal device you may plug into your PC. This is a very important feature since many virus are known to pass undetected through a variety of removable media. However, ESET doesn't have "automatic scanning" enabled by default (which they should). ESET will prompt you to scan the device, but we think an automatic scan would be much safer.

Conclusion - Overall Score: 95 %

Overall, we liked the look of ESET Smart Security 7 quite a bit. However, it's simply not as effective as it should be against malware in general.

Real-time protection was good, but scanning and firewall protection leave your computer with potential vulnerabilities. Not all malware could be fully removed during testing.

Technical support is not designed with the customer in mind. With no way to directly contact a real person, ESET falls behind much of the competition in this area.

On the plus side, ESET has made good improvements, and does well against zero-day, real-time threats. But with a flawed firewall, less-than-ideal user interface, and deep malware removal issues, ESET Smart Security 7 still needs some work.

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